________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 22 . . . . June 22, 2007

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Eyes of a Stalker. (A Shelby Belgarden Mystery).

Valerie Sherrard.
Toronto, ON: Boardwalk Books, 2006.
224 pp., pbk., $12.99.           
ISBN 978-1-55002-643-6.

Subject Headings:
Stalking-Juvenile fiction.
Kidnapping-Juvenile fiction.
Detective and mystery stories.

Grades 9-12 / Ages 14-17.

Review by Joanne Peters.

*** /4

Shelby Belgarden is now in grade 11. For the past few years, it “seemed as if school would just keep going on and on  . . . Then, all of a sudden, it’s the year before graduation and whole weeks are just sliding away like crazy.” As the book opens, it’s the month of November, and Shelby’s focus is on enjoying her final two years at Little River High. Her boyfriend, Greg, is now in his graduating year, and Shelby’s best friend, Betts, does a fine job of reminding Shelby about the social delights awaiting Greg upon his leaving home for university life. Betts, a charter member of the “boyfriend of the month” club, decides that the school drama club is the place to find a “replacement model” after her most recent break-up. Shelby is a good sport and allows herself to be “convinced” to join, even though it is really not her thing to do. Her preferred extra-curricular activity is the school’s book and writing club, presided over by Mr. Grimes, teacher at Little River High, and an eccentric local author who Shelby refers to only as “Webster” (like the dictionary). 

     Life in the Belgarden home is pretty much like life in any other average, middle-class, small town family (although Shelby does have two parents who live together, the family sits down for regular meals preceded by a blessing, and they all seem to get along remarkably well.) But, this is a mystery series, and something has to happen to upset the apparent harmony of their life. First, Shelby receives an unexpected floral delivery, and it’s not from Greg. Then, the phone calls begin:


“Hello?”

Silence. Somehow, it seemed heavy and dark.

“Hello?” I could feel my heartbeat quicken.

“Shelby?” The voice was a thick, rasping whisper.

“Who is this?” The words were automatic, but my throat felt dry and constricted. I realized that I sounded scared. . . .

“Oh, Shelby.” There was a strangely sinister amusement in his tone.

“Don’t you know that you belong to me?”

 

     Next, threatening e-mails arrive, and very soon, the police are involved. Who is stalking Shelby? A classmate? Someone from the school’s Drama or Book Club? Is it Webster? Or someone else in town, someone she barely knows, but who is definitely interested in her?

     Eyes of a Stalker is definitely a book with dark moments. Finding herself the object of someone with criminal intentions is a new experience for Shelby. In the past, she has always solved a crime on someone else’s behalf, and this time, she finds herself in the unenviable role of victim. Stalking is an insidious crime, slowly eroding an individual’s sense of safety and trust.  Sherrard truly conveys the increasing unease and insecurity which dominates the Belgarden home, and, when the stalker finally reveals himself, it is a genuine surprise. As for Shelby’s fate, readers are kept in suspense right up to the final pages of the story. But, being Shelby Belgarden, she is both resourceful and quick-witted and will probably have another mystery to solve in her graduating year at high school.

Recommended.

Joanne Peters is a teacher-librarian at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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